India faces major environmental challenges associated with waste generation and inadequate waste collection, transport, treatment and disposal. Current systems in India cannot cope with the volumes of waste generated by an increasing urban population, and this impacts on the environment and public health.

1.The challenges and barriers are significant, but so are the opportunities. This paper reports on an international seminar on ‘Sustainable solid waste management for cities: opportunities in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries’ organized by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute and the Royal Society.

2. A priority is to move from reliance on waste dumps that offer no environmental protection, to waste management systems that retain useful resources within the economy. Waste segregation at source and use of specialized waste processing facilities to separate recyclable materials has a key role.

3.Disposal of residual waste after extraction of material resources needs engineered landfill sites and/or investment in waste-to-energy facilities.

4.The potential for energy generation from landfill via methane extraction or thermal treatment is a major opportunity, but a key barrier is the shortage of qualified engineers and environmental professionals with the experience to deliver improved waste management systems in India.

5.The municipal solid waste can be classified into five main categories:

Where solid waste is properly managed, after the waste is generated, it is segregated at source, then properly stored, collected, transported and treated. In an effective solid waste management model, there should be a goal to reduce, reuse, recover and recycle waste by using the appropriate technologies and the waste that is disposed of in landfills should be minimized, most importantly, landfills should be properly managed so that they don’t become a source of greenhouse gases and toxins.

But in many cities of India, the waste that is generated is just recklessly dumped in most cases, some is dumped on the streets and some is dumped in landfills that are not properly managed and this ends up polluting the air, soil, and underground water.

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